Although the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is yet to make and official statement on the reason for the arrest of the Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Olakunle Oluomo, on Thursday, facts have emerged on the real reasons for the arrest.
Oluomo was Thursday morning arrested at the Muritala Muhammad International Airport, Ikeja and has since been transferred to the Abuja office of the Commission for questioning.
Headlinenews.news gathered that the Assembly under Oluomo allegedly forged documents in the name of a company belonging to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Obasanjo Holdings Limited; to ‘steal and divert over N700 million means for the running of the Assembly.’
The Assembly was also alleged to have forged documents belonging to the former Speaker of the Assembly, Suraj Isola Adekunbi, Ashkash Nigeria Limited.
The Assembly was also alleged to have used the receipts and invoices of non-existing corporate entities to retire monies allegedly siphoned by some members of the Assembly.
The anti-graft agency had in December 2021 and January 2022, invited members of the Assembly, as part of the Commission’s investigation into an allegation of mismanagement of the Assembly fund.
In a letter dated 16th April, 2021 with reference number CR:3000/EFCC/LS/CMU/OG1/VOL 1/364 and addressed to the Clerk of the House, the EFCC requested for documents to further its investigation.
Documents requested included Certified True Copies of all budget appropriations and allocations of the House from May 30, 2015 ‘till date’; details of all constituency projects executed in each constituency in the state including ‘location of projects, certificates of no objection, inspection and completion certificates issued with respect to the projects; copies of all contract bidding documents including details of contractors, and procurements staff engaged in the project from pre-solicitation phase to the post award and monitoring phase of the various constituency projects ‘from May 30th, 2015 to date’, amongst others.
In another letter dated 5th January, 2022, the Agency wrote another letter inviting all members of the Assembly ‘for interview as indicated in the attached list to enable us proceed with the investigation.’
The Agency also invited the Accountant and Director of Finance and Account ‘for the pending interview with the undersigned through the Head, Chairman’s Monitoring Unit.
Buy instead of honouring the invitation, it was gathered, the Assembly, led by the Speaker, challenged the invitation by dragging the Agency before a Federal High Court in Abeokuta with an interlocutory application and a motion on notice backed by a 26-paragraph affidavit.
The case was tagged FHC/AB/CS/8/22.
In its 18 paragraphs Counter Affidavit dated 28th February, 2022, a copy of which was obtained by Headlinenews.news, the EFCC alleged that it was only investigating, according to its powers, an intelligence to the effect that some members of the Assembly conspired ‘amongst themselves to forge documents, steal and divert for their personal use over N700, 000, 000 allocated for the running of the Ogun State House of Assembly.’
The EFCC further alleged that the suspects in the case who were plaintiffs in a suite carried out the alleged criminal acts by forging receipts and invoices ‘which they used to buttress the claim that the monies were spent for training for members of the House and other miscellaneous expenses’.
The Agency further alleged that the documents received from the Assembly on the 28th of April, 2021 were full of discrepancies and needed to invite some officers to make clarification on the discrepancies.
According to the documents as obtained by Headlinenews.news, Assembly allegedly forged documents belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC mega station in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, an arm of Obasanjo Holdings Limited; and a filling station belonging to the former Speaker, Ashkash Nigeria Limited.
The EFCC had written to the Managing Director of the Mega Station on January 24, requesting the management confirm authenticity of cash sale receipts, all dated 2019.
But in a reply dated 26th January, 2022 and signed by the Dealer Manager of the Station, Ajibike Oluwaseun, a copy of which was also obtained by Headlinenews.news, the Station confirmed that the receipts forwarded to the EFCC by the Assembly were not issues by the filling Station.
It went ahead to attach copies of receipts issues between 2018 and 2021, one of which was issued to the Ogun State Government House in 2018, which clearly differ from the receipts in question.
“We write to inform you that the receipts being investigated were not issued by our filling station. Please find attached copies of the receipts we issued in 2018, 2019 and 2021 which differ from those in question,” the Station said.
In a similar request, the anti-graft Agency also wrote to the Managing Director of Ashkash Nig. Ltd, demanding authentication of receipt samples attached to the letter also dated 24th January, 2022.
In a similar response from Ashkash Nigeria Limited dated 27th January, 2022, the Company denied the receipts, adding that no such transactions existed in its record.
The EFCC maintained that its preliminary investigations have revealed “that there are criminal schemes perpetuated inside the Ogun State House of Assembly by its members and officials including but not limited to forgeries of documents, falsification of financial records and diversion of public funds to personal use by some elected members and civil servants.
“That the plaintiffs along with some officials of the Ogun State House of Assembly forged some documents, in order to falsify the financial records of the House.
“That investigation have also revealed that some corporate entities that purportedly issued some invoices and receipts to the plaintiffs do not exist even though these receipts and invoices were used by the Plaintiffs and their cohorts to justify the disbursement of funds.
“That the record that in year 2020, funds belonging to the Ogun State House of Assembly were spent on training and accommodation has shown to be false because there was lockdown during the time in review.”